×

Venice Doc ‘Humberto Mauro’ Screens on 80th Anniversary of Director’s Historic Visit

The first Brazilian filmmaker to participate in an international film event, Humberto Mauro’s life and work return to Venice thanks to his grandnephew André Di Mauro

2018 marks 80 years since Humberto Mauro, arguably Brazil’s and one of Latin America’s earliest great filmmakers, was the first Brazilian filmmaker to attend an international film festival. It’s poetic then that his grandnephew, André Di Mauro, is back at that very same festival with a documentary pieced together from the elder’s complete body of work, and interviews the filmmaker had recorded with his son in the ‘60s.

Titled simply, “Humberto Mauro,” the documentary is a trip back in time to the rural countryside of Brazil, and the fledgling stages of that country’s cinematic industry. There is no narration per se, but archived interviews from the director address his career as a filmmaker, living and working in rural Brazil, and candidly speak to and about his family, past and present.

The film was produced by Di Mauro Filmes and co-produced by Canal Brazil, with backing from Energisa and support from Cinema do Brazil and Apex Brazil. Sales are handled by Lança Filmes, whose history with arthouse festival fare should come in handy.

Di Mauro talked with Variety about his great-uncle and the film he made in his name in the lead-up to its Sept 5th world premiere at Venice.

Where do you see Humberto’s influence in modern cinema?

Humberto influenced many Brazilian filmmakers from several generations and different cinematographic movements. Even if it isn’t a direct influence, it is somehow present. It’s like the root of a big tree. It is not always visible but it feeds the whole organism. Despite all the influence that Humberto Mauro had on the new cinema, I think Walter Lima Junior is the one who carries the most Humberto cinematographic DNA.

What did you learn about cinema, and your family, while working on this film?

For me, making this movie was a constant lesson in cinema, not only in terms of technique, editing, photography and language, but also how to deal with artistic creation in a general way. As for the family, it was not exactly an apprenticeship, but a waterfall of emotions. The film’s theme is a long interview that Humberto did in the 1960s, and several times during this interview he sends messages to his relatives in the future. Every time I heard one of those messages I felt strong emotions.

This is a black and white film, with many of the clips from the silent era. How did you handle sound?

The sound has a great importance in this sensorial narrative that the film proposes. We put great effort into inserting sound, and it was delicate work, with a lot of passion, that counted on the valuable participation of the talented film editor Renato Vallone. To arrive at the final result we constructed several layers of sound that interact between each other in a harmonious way, sometimes with the purpose of causing interference.

Your great-uncle worked for a long time and produced an impressive number of films. Which do you think are particularly representative? Which do you recommend for the modern public?

 It is difficult to choose only 1 of his more than 300 films, so I’ll cite four that touch me the most to point out the modern public. First, “Canto da Saudade” (“Longing Song”). Besides directing, writing and producing, he also performs in a fantastic interpretation of Colonel Januário. It is a very current film that combines a highly evolved cinematic language and humor.

Second, “Braza Dormida” (“Sleeping Ember”) considered by the historian Georges Sadoul to be one of the most important Latino movies of the silent film era. Third, “Ganga Bruta” (“Ganga” means “impurities contained in the ore” and “Bruta” mean “Gross”) presents a sophistication and impressive creative freedom. And, “Velha a Fiar”  (“The Old Woman Weaving”), considered one of the first Brazilian video clips inspired by a popular song. In an unusual way it speaks of life and death to tremendous success. When kids visit the House of Culture, Humberto Mauro is always the first movie we show.

What do you think modern audiences will take from your movie?

The film proposes a cinematic experience with a sensory narrative. At the same time it presents simple elements like family, crisis, overcoming, issues common to all of us. Also, in a world so massified by the culture of Blockbusters where the likes in a post can define if you are happy or not, experiencing “Humberto Mauro” can be a way to reconnect the new generations with these basic principles, not only of human nature, but also of the cinematic art.

What pushed you to make this movie, your first feature, now?

It’s an old project, in the 90’s I wrote a book about Humberto. The initial idea was to do a biographical film using actors, but it was very expensive so I decided to make a documentary, and I had this idea of telling his life through his work. Two years ago the possibility of financing from Energisa appeared, and I was able to make the film.

More Film

  • Javier Bardem Dune

    Javier Bardem in Talks to Play King Triton in Disney's 'Little Mermaid'

    Javier Bardem is in talks to play King Triton in Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey will portray the Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of being a human, while Melissa McCarthy is playing her evil aunt Ursula. Harry Styles is also in early talks to play Prince Eric. “The Little Mermaid” [...]

  • UglyDolls

    STX Tries to Put Flops Behind It As It Searches For Star Executive, Fresh Capital

    After a series of film flops and an aborted initial public offering, STX Entertainment is battling mounting skepticism that it can survive in an increasingly unforgiving movie business. As it hustles to find $500 million in fresh capital, the company, which operates in the red according to financial disclosures, is simultaneously hoping to attract a [...]

  • Ryan Simpkins

    Ryan Simpkins Joins Fox-Disney's 'Fear Street' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ryan Simpkins has joined Fox-Disney’s second installment of 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment’s “Fear Street” trilogy, based on the novels by R.L. Stine. Leigh Janiak is helming all three films. Previously announced cast includes Gillian Jacobs, Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Ashley Zukerman, Fred Hechinger, Julia [...]

  • MPAA Logo

    Motion Picture Association of America Hires Emily Lenzner as Communications Chief

    The Motion Picture Association of America has appointed veteran public relations executive Emily Lenzner as its executive VP of global communications and public affairs. She will report to Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin and oversee the trade group’s communications team in the U.S. and internationally. Lenzner will start Aug. 1 and be based at the MPAA’s [...]

  • 'Cats' Teaser Trailer: See Taylor Swift

    Taylor Swift Unveils Feline Moves in 'Cats' Behind-the-Scenes Teaser

    Taylor Swift fans finally get to see some of the results of all those years spent studying her roommates Meredith and Olivia — and also, not incidentally, some time with a choreographer — in a new behind-the-scenes teaser for the movie “Cats.” The three-and-a-half-minute featurette has footage of Swift striking crouching feline moves as well [...]

  • CGR’s Immersive Premium Format Set for

    Immersive Theater Technology Set for US Debut in Los Angeles

    French multiplex company CGR Cinemas has selected the Regal LA Live as the first U.S. theater to use its Immersive Cinema Experience technology. The ICE format will be unveiled in the fall at the downtown location in a partnership between CGR and AEG. The companies made the announcement Wednesday but did not reveal which title [...]

  • Amazon Developing Original Series Based on

    Amazon Studios Buys 'Selah and the Spades,' Will Develop Original Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Studios has acquired worldwide rights to “Selah and the Spades,” a gripping look at a prep school drug dealer, Variety has learned. The film marks the feature debut of writer and director Tayarisha Poe and had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it was a favorite with critics. Amazon has [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content